2024 India – Part 3 – Delhi

Meeting good friends…

At 14:45 I landed in Delhi, a sprawling, constantly expanding metropolis. I collected my luggage and took a taxi to my hotel. Within minutes I was immersed in Delhi’s noise and fast pace but this time I was not overwhelmed by it as I knew what to expect. I just settled into the city’s rhythms and thoroughly enjoyed my surroundings.

After I checked in to my hotel I met my good friend Asha, a Dutch woman born in India, We share two passions, our love for Marillion (This is actually how we met during one of the Marillion weekends in Port Zelande) and our love for India. By coincidence (and some adapting from the side of Asha) our visits to Delhi coincided so we could not miss the opportunity to go out for an evening of drinks, some snacks and catching up and lots of laughter.

In India it is still preferable that a boy is born instead of a girl. As Asha was the 2nd girl born in the family her father forced her mother to give Asha away for adoption. In spite of being raised in a very loving and caring Dutch family her questions of her origin and the why of adoption remained. Asha wrote an impressive book about this traumatic process and the position of women in India in general. I can highly recommend it. It’s called “Een Verboden Dochter Uit India” and is available in English as well “A Forbidden Daughter from India“. For me it was an opportunity to get to know Asha even better and understand the painful process and dilemmas that come with adoption. I have always known about the bad position of women in India but Ashas book was an eye opener.

I dropped off Asha at her B&B. As she is a woman there is no way I would let her go back to her B&B on her own and waited till she was safely inside, then I returned to my place. Next morning I took a taxi to go back to the place where Asha stayed where we had breakfast with her hosts who are very good friends of her. 

Next we went to visit the Headquarters of Tara Project, a foundation that Asha is supporting and not surprisingly works on improving the situation of women in India. Tara Project is working with artisan communities in Delhi, UP, Haryana and Rajasthan to generate sustainable livelihood, education, environment & health based on handicrafts…

I was shown around in the headquarters after which we headed towards one of the communities where Tara Project does its work. Today was the celebration of International Women Day, and we were invited to an event. But not after I was shown some of the impressive projects in the area.

The event started with a number of speeches, all about life stories and how women gradually improved their life’s and position in Indian Society. Asha also was given the opportunity to present her book, and as most of the women in the audience did not speak English the presentation was simultaneously translated in Hindi. Then there was dancing and snacks were being handed out after which it was all over. It had been an extremely impressive afternoon. 

After a tasty lunch we said goodbye to our welcoming hosts and returned to the place where Asha was staying. A cup of tea and a nice conversation later we went out for a drink or two to celebrate our final evening together. 

Asha requested a Marillion song and before we knew we changed the place in a Marillion Den as the reminder of the evening only Marillion songs were played. What a fabulous time to finish our special encounter in Delhi.

Breakfast is always a good way to start the day and after that I took the time to update my journal before I took a rickshaw tot the Select City Walk Shopping Centre which also housed the PVR iMax cinema. I went to see Dune: Part Two, an absolute fabulous movie.

Then I returned to my hotel for a short break, after which it was time to see my good friends Neha and Anmol. It had been 5 years since we last met and all three of us were happy to catch up. Neha has founded Saffron Palate and gives authentic India cooking classes from her home and this is how we met in 2015. In 2018 I was lucky enough to join a fantastic Holi party given at her house and the three of us last met in 2019 when we went out for dinner as well. I could not have thought of a better way to finish my stay in Delhi.

Continue to Part 4 – Rajasthan  – A revisit to the country of kings